Data Stewards – Not Data Cops

Data Stewards – Not Data Cops

If you have a data quality and data governance program in your organization, you must be having people designated as ‘data stewards’ (if you do not, read why they are important). These individuals are critical for the proper working of data quality initiatives and their ultimate success. However, it has been noted that data stewards in many organizations are viewed as data police or data cops, seeking to punish people stepping out of line.
Although it is almost impossible to anticipate every issue that can crop up, here are some practices that a data steward can (and should) follow to encounter the most common problems.

  1. Data stewards should be patient – People taking up this position will have to realize that such a project represents a substantial change; and humans don’t like it. Patience on the part of the stewards will go a long way towards ensuring that doubts and queries of employees are properly handled and any discontent is recognised and acknowledged.

  3. Data stewards should be accommodating (up to a limit) – Your organization will definitely have old timers who are set in their ways. It might be difficulty to impress upon them the importance of data governance and hope for them to change overnight. Depending upon the company, and its culture, the data steward might have to accommodate such people. Of course, the parameters are well defined in the case of data quality and there is not too much wiggle room, but what is important is to not lose sight of the human element.

  5. Data stewards should be competent – This is a point where we have seen companies stumble. Many a times, a data stewardship position is handed over to a person who is not performing as per their manager’s expectation. If you want people to respect and value the position and the person, make sure that the person being appointed is someone who is competent in their own existing role. This might not be easy but is essential.

  7. Data stewards should be aware of their role – The data steward needs to not just take care of the data, but also, explain to the employees why this (generally) disruptive process is essential. They need to demonstrate that data quality is no longer a matter of choice and how managing data better is good for the company in the long run. This can be done only by someone who is clear about their role going in. Ensure that the person stepping in these shoes is aware of their responsibilities.

  9. Data stewards should have the support of the business leadership – The last and probably the most important point. The data steward should have the support of the business leadership. If the employees sense that the leadership is not 100% on-board with either the project or the personnel, their respect for both will vanish. It is critical to ensure this situation does not arise.

Data stewardship is not a permanent position, but will require even more careful consideration before being instituted and the right person being appointed. Whether you are looking to create such a position or sort out problems with an existing one, the pointers above will definitely be helpful. What challenges have you faced with your data stewards? Share your stories in the comment section.


Further Reading –

Blog – Single Version of the Truth – What it means for data quality?

Case Study – Process Improvement for a Large Agricultural Nutrient Provider

White Paper – Data Governance for ERP Projects

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Vipul Aroh

Vipul Aroh

Vipul Aroh is a part of the Marketing team at Verdantis. Although relatively new to the field of master data management and data governance, he is fascinated by the topics and is becoming more passionate about them by the day. Vipul holds a Master’s in Business Administration from Sydneham Institute of Management, Mumbai.

One comment

  • Hello Vipul

    I am Chandra a Senior SCM specialist with over 30 yrs experience including 10 years in SAP
    Extesive experience in MDM,cleansing set up focussed on Utilities and Oil&gas
    Agree with you fully
    There is no one focal point for creation and validation of new master in the system leading to haphazard creation of new item numbers and resultant duplication of codes for the same item.
    Some of the companies which I have worked in the Middle East such as PDO-OMAN have outsourced the entire Data Stewards function to a third party in India who have to revert with the new item codes in agreed turnaround times
    However lot of education is necessary particulary when most of the companies are using ERP or moving to that.



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